A team of researchers from Harvard University conducted an analysis of a number of studies involving over one million people and found that as little 50g of processed meat per day can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Despite the fact that both processed and unprocessed meat have a similar fat content, researchers found that even if a person doubled their intake of unprocessed meat, there would still be no increased risk of heart disease or diabetes, highlighting that the difference could not be attributed to the fat content but to other factors instead.
Researchers have speculated that the difference may be related to the salt and preservatives added to processed meats. The term preserving covers a wide spectrum of methods including smoking, curing or salting and as we know, high levels of salt are known to increase blood pressure which in some people plays a key role in heart disease.
In terms of figures the researchers found that a 50g serving of meat per day, which is the equivalent of a sausage or around 2 rashers of bacon, was linked to a 42% higher chance of developing coronary heart disease and a 19% higher risk of diabetes.
Nutrition experts are recommending that processed meats be eaten as part of a healthy and balanced diet and have also recommended that those who enjoy red meat go for lean cuts, use healthy cooking methods such as grilling and baking and season with herbs and spices as opposed to salt.
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